Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Handmade Pastas and Charcuterie at Desco (Oakland, CA)

Desco is a gorgeous new restaurant in Oakland from Donato Scotti who owns Donato Enoteco in Redwood City, serving house made charcuterie and pastas.

Desco's bright and spacious dining room

I had dinner there with a couple of vegetarian friends, but I indulged in plenty of meat on my own. I started with a platter of three house-made charcuterie that seemed to be much more reasonable than the ones I find in LA. The Piatto della casa (smoked duck, lamb prosciutto, rabbit terrine ) is only $10
It's quite the charcuterie plate for $10! The lamb prosciutto was aged for 3 months and the rabbit terrine was drizzled with extra vecchio (extra old) balsamico.

There's a small list of classic cocktails ($10 each), but they're made well and included drinks like Pegu Club. The Old Fashioned was quite nice and they have a good selection of gin and whisky.

The thing you must get here is the handmade Casonsei ($12). Casonsei is a type of filled pasta from Bergamo in Lombardi region, where the chef is from. It is filled with pork and amaretto cookie crumbs, then topped with brown butter and guanciale. 
I absolutely loved it. The pasta had very nice thickness and texture. The pork inside is very tender, perfect with the crispy guanciale. This pasta was so delicious, I couldn't stop eating despite having another entree coming ..

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Deals and Specials!

Forget parties with a high cover charge, a lot of bars and restaurants are throwing deals and specials! Here's where to drink on the cheap for Halloween:

First of all, there's a Boos for Booze bar crawl along Washington Blvd in Culver City. Deets:

Crawl kicks off at A-Frame from 5-7pm
Serving: Furikake Kettle Corn and Heirloom Pickles - $6, The Omen (Rye Whiskey, Yellow Chartreuse, Imbue Petal & Thorn, Lemon) - $6

Crawl moves to Waterloo & City from 7-9pm
Serving: Scotch Egg with Piccalilli - $4, Waterloo Scary PubTail (Mezcal, Blood Orange, Serrano Chilies) - $6

Crawl culminates at The Corner Door, 9pm
Serving: Fried Chicken Sandwich - $7,  Halloween Punch - Ginger & Mary Ann (Bourbon, House Made Spiced Apple Cordial, Lemon, Lime, Ginger, Prosecco) - $6

Or, if you'd rather stay put at one place and drink all day/night, Ricardo Zarate's restaurants are giving you open bar deals:
Picca. 9575 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035

9:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m:
·         Welcome shot for those dressed in costume
·         $20 open bar to those who enjoyed dinner earlier in the evening
·         $25 open bar to general public
·         Includes: Pisco Halloween Punch, Peruvian beer, and house wines
Tricks: Costume contest, “Thriller” dance competition, and bobbing for apples  
Treats: 20% off New Year’s Eve Dinner, “Spooky Gift Bags,” and a surprise grand prize

Mo-chica. 517 West 7th Street, Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90014
11:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
·         Welcome shot for those dressed in costume
·         $25 open bar: Pisco Halloween Punch, Peruvian beer, and house wines
2:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m:  Happy Hour- 20% off entire bill
Tricks: Costume contest, dance competition
Treats: Gift certificates and “Spook Gift Bags”
Paiche. 13488 Maxella Avenue, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

            2:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m:   $25 open bar with special-themed cocktails, beer, and house wine
9:00 p.m.-midnight:    666 Menu featuring 6 dishes for $6 each
Tricks: Raffle, Costume contest
Treats: One-hour mixology class with Mixologist Deysi Alvarez, one-hour cooking class with Ricardo Lopez, and more

Thirsty Crow in Silverlake is also throwing a Dead Celebrity Party starting at 9pm with $5 "blood punch" and a costume contest

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mo-Chica's $27 Tuesday OG Tasting Menu

When Mo-Chica was just a stall at the Mercado La Paloma, Ricardo Zarate would do special tasting menus on Tuesdays. They've no revived the Tuesday tastings at the downtown Mo-Chica. The "OG Tasting Menu" offers 5 courses for just $27! A good deal, right?

The menu changes but when I went the 5 courses started with an Heirloom tomato salad, crispy red quinoa, fresh mozzarella, huacatay pesto

A fun Peruvian twist on the cliche tomato mozzarella with pesto

The next course is a Ceviche trio:
tuna sashimi, yuzu miso, green shiso, mountain yam
Diver scallop, aji amarillo aioli, wasabi, tobiko
Hamachi, jalapeno ponzu, nori lettuce, garlic crisp
ceviche trio
I'm glad they included a ceviche course in the tasting menu, because what's a visit to Mo Chica without some? Because it was more unusual to find, my favorite here was the scallop. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Media Conference and Lunch at the Korean Food Fair Trade Show [sponsored]

Before checking out the Korean Food Fair trade show, I attended a media conference and lunch. The Korean agriculture department signed a contract with Unified Grocers in the US, and I learned that seaweed is the #1 exported food product of South Korea. 

Chefs Cathlyn Choi and Bernard Guillas also had a panel talking about Korean food. Chef Guillas fell in love with Korean food and even put dukbokki on the menu of his restaurant, The Marine Room in San Diego. We tried a dish he made using Korean pears: Salmon on pickled pear with sesame leaf and masago
Fellow writer Barbara Hansen winning a gift certificate to Wi Spa
There are three types of fermented food in Korea: kimchi, fermented sauces, and fermented seafood. But these can be used in other types of food. Our lunch made by Chef Myung was half "fusion" - Western style dishes made with Korean ingredients or sauces, while the other half was traditional Korean food.
Lamb chops in soy sauce

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New Finds at Korean Food Fair Trade Show

I recently went to the Korean Food Fair trade show. It's a business to business trade show. This trade show was only open to buyers and big retailers, but as media I still got to look around and sampled a bit of what was there. 

While some brands are already distributed in the US, at least half were products that are still looking for distribution. One of the things I tried and enjoyed was this seaweed snack (laver snack). So, the number one exported product out of South Korea is dried seaweed! Yet unlike regular seaweed they actually put a thin slice of cracker between seaweed, giving it a crunchier texture that's better for snacking!

I also like tasting the teas from Hankook Tea. They had things like persimmon tea leaves, and one of the most interesting ones was the hydrangea leaf tea.

Because of the container we really saw what was inside the tea, and it really just was the leaves, yet it was surprisingly sweet! There was no sweetener added, hydrangea leaves just contain a substance called phyllodulcin that is naturally sweet.

I don't know if this is currently being imported into the US, but I sure hope so!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pork Chop and Beers at Carson House (Beverly Hills, CA)

Sure there are an abundance of gastropubs in LA, but you can't say the same of Beverly Hills. In fact, Carson House on Wilshire Blvd may be one of the only ones offering such a big beer selection. 

I've been to Carson House once for lunch and once for dinner.
For lunch they serve sandwiches, pizza, and a few entree dishes like this roasted salmon with forbidden rice. 
Perfect for a nice, healthy lunch.

I indulged more during dinner. We started with the Grilled watermelon salad, heirloom tomato, basil, Dutch feta, lemon vinaigrette
Watermelon salad
I really liked the combination of flavors here. The feta was not crumbled but served as a whole slice which added to the texture contrast of the salad. I thought this really distinguished the salad from the usual watermelon feta combo.

Chicken lollipops (chicken meatballs, buffalo plum glaze, blue cheese whip)
Chicken balls
These are a little spicy! Luckily the blue cheese whip is there to curb the spiciness.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Quintessential Los Angeles and LA's Top Late Night Dining

As I had said in my post yesterday, I had been asked by to make "collections" of my top picks in Los Angeles. Here are two more, featuring the top late night dining in the city (not surprisingly there are a few from K-town, thanks to the abundance of 24-hour restaurants there)

I also made a list of the Quintessentially Los Angeles cuisine. I had a harder time with this collection - how do you define what is quintessentially LA cuisine? I know Din Tai Fung has made it to tons of LA's iconic food and Best of LA lists, but I didn't want to include places like that which is a chain that originated from outside of LA. Instead, I'm looking for things that you can only get or started in LA.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My "Collections" of LA's Top 16 Special Occasion Restaurant and Best Restaurant Bars

I was asked by to make 4 "collections" of the top spots in Los Angeles. It's a pretty easy way to make lists, I can just search for a restaurant and click to add to my collections (it's not just for restaurants but you can do the same for recipes on the site as well). Then you write a blurb about why it's in your collection. So far it's quite easy to use although the search results give you restaurants from around the country so for common names you have to sift through a bit.

Well, anyway, here are two collections that I made. One is LA's best restaurants from special occasion dining, from steak to sushi worthy of a splurge and celebration! (note: the widgets unfortunately don't show the full collections. To see the other restaurants you'd have to click "See collection")

Another collection I did is the LA restaurants with the best cocktail bars (yes, there are many other great cocktail bars but I specifically chose the ones in a restaurant for this). I ventured as far as Pasadena (1886 Bar - technically separate but it's connected to the Raymond Restaurant after all) and Seal Beach (320 Main).

Friday, October 18, 2013

Brussels Sprout 8-Ways And Great Seafood at Tapenade (West LA)

New restaurants keep popping up on Sawtelle Blvd and they're not all Japanese. Tucked inside the Olympic Collections is Tapenade, which all brussels sprout lovers should visit.


The chef, Ressul Rassalat, also loves it so much he serves it multiple ways at his restaurant. They're all prepared the same style and crispy, but with different flavors. Currently I'm counting eight different flavors of brussels sprout on the menu, and he will either rotate or add more! I had to order the "Indonesian" (because I am one, in case you didn't know) even though that was not one of the waitress' recommendations. This latest addition is made with pineapple, cashews, lime and chili ($9).
brussels sprout

It wasn't quite typical Indonesian flavors but it was spicy and tropical. I want to try the Moroccan one next, which comes with lamb, olives, goat cheese, and red wine vinegar.

Goat cheese tapenade, brioche bread ($10)

I had to try a tapenade because of the restaurant's name! I liked its creaminess (and wished there were more bread).

I especially enjoyed the seafood dishes here, where I think the chef's classical training really shows. Try the Seared scallops, New England chowder ($14)

I thought New England chowder was the white, creamy ones and that the red one is a Manhattan chowder? Well, anyway, the scallops were perfectly cooked and fresh, and the light chowder broth had a lot of of flavors.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Giveaway: Oktoberfest at Fairplex in Pomona

It's Oktoberfest time and time for another giveaway! I'm a bit late to this since the Oktoberfest at Fairplex in Pomona had already started on October 10, but it's still going on until the 27th so you still have time! The events are happening Thursday-Saturday 6pm to midnight and Sundays from 12-6pm.

There will be domestic and local beers, bratwurst, burgers, pretzels, and King Taco. Various cover bands are ready to entertain you with songs from traditional German "Oom-pah" to Journey and Queen. Tickets are normally $5 each with beer and food for purchase, but you can enter this giveaway for a prize package!

The prize package includes: two admission tickets to Oktoberfest, two 16oz beers, two meal tickets, and a souvenir hat.

To enter, just leave a comment below with your contact/email info.
Get an extra entry by tweeting: "Win a prize package to #Oktoberfest @Fairplex from @gourmetpigs!"

I want to give you enough time to get to Pomona, so the giveaway will end at midnight this Thursday, Oct 17!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Scarpetta: The Best Happy Hour in Beverly Hills

Who would've guessed that Scarpetta at The Montage in Beverly Hills would launch the best happy hour deal around? From 4-8pm (Monday through Saturday) all the cocktails and food on the happy hour menu are only $8! And we're not talking boring cocktails or skimpy food portions. Just keep reading to see what you get (chicken liver pate? lobster croquettes?) !

Scarpetta has tapped mixologist Rob Floyd to design the cocktail menu. Even for the skinny drinks he made (for that LA crowd), he wanted the ingredients to be all organic. The Fortuna (peach vodka, St. Germain, peach puree) uses puree made with all organic Japanese peaches. Did I mention it was sugar free? He uses STIR sweetener, an organic sugar substitute.
Scarpetta happy hour
For a refreshing gingery drink, try the Amalfi: Crown royal with mint, lime, bitters, topped w fever tree ginger beer. Rob told us that Julep came from an Arabic medicinal drink, called Golab which originated in the 15th century.

Much like the name, the Passione (aperol, gin, sambuca, lemon) is made with fire and a delight to watch. I personally love aperol and really enjoyed this lighter drink.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Delicious Cookies For All (Vegan and Gluten Free, Too!) With DeLuscious Cookies + Milk

If you've been reading this blog you'd know that I'm clearly not vegetarian, nor gluten intolerant, but that doesn't mean I won't try them. I've heard a lot of good things about DeLuscious cookies, and they offered to send me samples of their new line of vegan and gluten-free cookies. At first I mainly accepted so I can try their original cookies as well, but boy was I surprised when I tried their vegan and gluten free cookies!

They not only have vegan cookies and gluten free cookies but also a chocolate chip cookies that are both vegan and gluten-free.
Surprisingly, my favorite might have been the vegan chocolate chip!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Disappointing Miami Spice Lunch at Restaurant Michael Schwartz

I stumbled into a great Miami Spice deal of a dinner at Tongue and Cheek so I gave it another go at Restaurant Michael Schwartz, his newest venture. The restaurant is at The Raleigh Hotel, with tables scattered outside near the pool.

When going to a restaurant week (or month, in this case) prix fixe deal, I find that first you always have to look at the menu. But apparently, just finding a menu that sounds good isn't enough. The lunch menu at Restaurant Michael Schwartz sounds great. In fact, it sounds amazing, for a $23 3-course lunch. Lobster salad, seafood stew, beef carpaccio. 

I chose the Lobster salad, toasted brioche, frisee for my first course. 
My "lobster salad" came and it was a bit of lobster on a tiny brioche, with a spattering of frisée on the side. What was this, an amuse bouche? 
Taste-wise, it was really good. But still ... Don't get me wrong, I wasn't expecting tons of lobster at this price, but a couple pieces on top of a tiny brioche? Can't I at least get more of the "salad" part? A proper appetizer size salad with a bit of lobster would make me more satisfied! Instead of a lobster salad they should've put "tiny lobster roll".

Carina's appetizer was a better deal with a generous portion of Grass fed beef carpaccio, parmesan, preserved lemon, capers, arugula.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Serving Cocktails at Home for the Lazy with Om Cocktails

Ever want to serve delicious cocktails at your house party but then realized you're too lazy? Like me, like all the time? Well, now there's a solution!

Natalie Bovis from The Liquid Muse and Jason Monkarsh have come out with Om Cocktails. These are bottled pre-mixed cocktails, and you have to do is pour and serve. They're not one of those nasty mixes in the grocery stores, though, these are made with natural, organic ingredients - including organic vodka (Om stands for "Organic mixology"). Plus, they plant one tree in Haiti for every bottle you buy!

Om Cocktails

There are three flavors currently out, including Wild Cranberry & Blood Orange (which is a bit like your Cosmo), Meyer Lemon & Ginger, and Coconut Water & Lychee. I'm still debating between the last two. Whichever flavor you like, instead of mixing drinks all night for your party, just grab some bottles of Om, sit back and relax while drinking.
Om Cocktails
Remember, you're drinking for trees in Haiti

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pre-Game Beer and Street Food at The Mixing Room at L.A. Live, Starts October 7

The Mixing Room at the JW Marriott at LA Live will outfit their outdoor space with a beer bar, serving a rotating selection of local craft beers and street food before and during athletic games at the Staples Center. You can grab a bite and a brew before heading to the game, or stay and watch the game on their large screen.

The people from Golden Road Brewery is helping build the bar, so about 75% of the beer lineup will consist of Golden Road beers.
The bar wasn't ready yet, so we had their canned beers
IMG_8949Each week on game days, they will serve one particular "street food" item paired with a beer (other beers will be available, but each week will feature one particular brewery), launching on October 7 with the Kings game.

Here is the schedule and some preview of what they will be serving:

October 7: Korean Taco (Korean shortrib / asian slaw / garlic red chili sause)
October 14: Mahi Mahi Ceviche Fresno pepper / cilantro / fresh lime / vegetable chips

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

CAN CAN Cleanse: A Juice Cleanse With A Soup Twist

Are you into the juice cleanse trend? I've tried a juice cleanse for a day before, and while I liked the taste of the juices and didn't really mind not eating for a day (I don't know if I could do it longer), I did miss having something savory and salty. Well, CAN CAN Cleanse may have solved that problem. The cleanse substitutes a warm soup for one of the juices.

They sent me a one day cleanse to try, which consisted of eight glass jars of juice, tea, and soup. The juices are delicious, just as good as the other juiceries. The lime and cayenne master cleanse is sweeter and less spicy than the one I've had at Kreation before, this cleanse starts with a lemon lime juice, and instead of either lemon or aloe water, they gave me chamomile mint tea and watermelon juice. Warm chamomile tea would be my preference over water any time.

Of course, there's also almond milk and green juice. You know the juices are fresh because of the separation that naturally occurs.

soupThe soup I got is the zucchini basil soup. It's healthy and not that creamy, but it still curbed my cravings for savory things during the cleanse. The soup is seasonal and the newest selection is celery root sage soup. The new tea is rosemary nettle, which sounds pretty exciting to try.

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